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Headshot of Grant Fergusson

Grant Fergusson

  • Hosted by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
  • Sponsored by The Henry Geller Memorial Fellowship
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Public Benefits/Welfare Reform, Technology
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Grant (he/him/his) investigates the automated decision-making systems used in government benefits programs and advocates for low-income individuals across the United States whose benefits have been unfairly reduced or eliminated because of algorithmic bias.

More than 37 million Americans are in poverty, and with rising inflation and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many more rely on government benefits to keep themselves afloat. To meet rising needs, state and local agencies across the United States have turned to automated decision-making systems to make government benefits programs more efficient and effective. However, many automated decision-making systems are deeply flawed and exhibit serious errors and biases that unfairly reduce or eliminate government benefits for those most in need: low-income communities of color. For the millions who rely on government assistance, these algorithmic errors can cause serious harm—often without impacted individuals ever knowing.

The son of an engineer, Grant has long believed that technology and justice go hand-in-hand. He has worked both within and outside government to fight algorithmic bias, surveillance, and corruption.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Grant will file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to publicize how government agencies use automated decision-making systems and challenge agencies who fail to disclose information in court. Alongside organizations serving low-incoming communities, Grant will develop educational materials and provide support for impacted individuals by filing amicus briefs. And to prevent future harm, Grant will push state agencies and legislatures alike to adopt A.I. guidelines that protect individuals from algorithmic harm.

Media

Ai-Generated ‘Fake Obituaries’ Publishing Incorrect Information About Deceased Online

Outsources and Automated: How AI Companies Have Taken Over Government Decision Making

Too many families have struggled to stay afloat amid COVID-19, and they should be able to trust our government to support them. EPIC’s work ensures that agencies use artificial intelligence to help, not hurt, those in need.

Grant Fergusson /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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